Thousands of people protested against gay marriage at a rally Saturday at the city's baseball stadium, facing a large crowd of chanting, shouting counterprotesters.
About 20,000 people attended the "Mayday for Marriage" worship service and rally, organized by conservative Christian churches around the state in support of straight marriage, according to the event's marketing director, John Kelly. Police offered no estimates regarding the size of the crowd. "This is a place where we're taking a stand," James Dobson, founder of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family, told the crowd. "If this happens, the culture war is over and everything associated with it is lost."
Between 2,500 and 3,000 gay rights supporters waved signs and chanted, "Bigots, go home!" and tried to shout down the antimarriage protesters. Arrivals had to walk among the counterprotesters to enter the stadium. One man was arrested, police said.
Jeffrey Steinberg, 52, carried a sign that said, "Religious bigots love lies, not God! Bear your false witness elsewhere." "Unfortunately, religion has often been a tool for hatred," he said.
Organizers spent $120,000 to rent the stadium, according to the Reverend Joseph Fuiten, pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God church in Bothell. The Seattle Mariners, who operate the ballpark, and Safeco Insurance, whose name is on it, received phone calls from people criticizing the use of the stadium for the anti-gay marriage rally, The Seattle Times reported Saturday. Some threatened to cancel insurance policies, while others said they would give up their Mariners tickets, the newspaper said.